It's a dream come true for ten girls and two boys, who were studying in a government primary school until a month ago. Later this week, they will be travelling to Sweden to take part in the world's largest youth football tournament. These children studied in government primary schools in Thaltej and Jodhpur till Class 8, and were admitted in Class 9 in Vishwabharti school at Thaltej from this academic year. They were among the 30 children, who were selected from the two schools each in 2015, and provided training in a phased manner. The training was sponsored by Swedish bearing technology company SKF.
"When we started training them, many of them did not even know how to run properly, and now they will be taking part in an international football event," Dr Manisha of Kahaani Sports, which has trained the children, said. Though being selected to play in an international tournament was a dream come true for the children, it was not a smooth ride. "The children are from poor backgrounds. Some of them did not have the necessary documents, while some had incomplete documents. But we could arrange the papers with help from senior government officials," Mahesh Thakkar, the students' coach, said.
Incidentally, a situation where the children may not have been playing together had arisen a few months ago. "After these children passed Class 8 exams, a number of private schools were keen to admit them due to their sports background, but I wanted that all of them to study in the same school so that they could continue playing together. We had to work hard, but we managed to secure admission for all of them in the same school," said Thakkar. Incidentally, a couple of these players had also taken part in the same tournament in 2016 and 2017. Their team was the runners-up in 2016, while one of the players was given the 'Best Player' award in 2017.